You’ve probably heard the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Another way to think about it: all big and complex things start with a simple step forward.
In many situations, however, that first step might not be so simple.
You likely have your own personal list of to-dos that have been gnawing at you for what seems like forever. For whatever reason, you keep procrastinating and pushing them to the back burner.
That tendency is multiplied when you consider projects that require a team or collaborative approach. Maybe you have a list of projects that you want finished, but you never seem to have the time, energy, or organization to move them forward.
At Reach Partners we’ve seen projects fail to launch or stall because a successful start was an obstacle. Starting is harder than it looks.
The pandemic has taught us, over and over, that virtual meetings and gatherings can actually be productive, rich with human connection. We’ve also learned that meaningful virtual connections are not certain. Rather it takes intention for it to be possible.
If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you know our mantra: Intention starts with purpose. (I know. We say it all the time, (specifically here and here), but it’s true. Really.)
Do you want a meaningful virtual meeting? Start with these tips:
We at Reach Partners are big Priya Parker fans. We devoured her book “The Art of Gathering” and even attended an event curated by her.
So when Parker penned an opinion column that ran in The New York Time before Thanksgiving, we paid attention. Titled “Abandon Your Thanksgiving Script,” the column addressed the need to think differently about holiday traditions during a year when nothing has been normal.
Parker challenged her readers to think imaginatively: “That begins with shifting our attitudes from fighting the current constraints to taking inspiration from them.”
As someone who studies and designs gatherings, she most often sees two responses to constraints on gathering: cancellation and rebellion. She encourages a third option: improv.
We’ve seen this play out in our own work and experiences over the last year.
As winter settles in, we’re ready to review the piles of books that encourage us to keep learning and expanding our view of the world.
A few of our favorites – both personal and professional – right now:
Every Thanksgiving season, we take a moment to reflect on the past year. Typically, we're full of gratitude for our relationships, our work, and the world around us.
Let's be frank: the past year hasn't been easy, nor smooth. We are tired of Zoom meetings and doing most of our work remotely. We miss the days when a friendly hug was a safe way to end a conversation. Still, as we look back, we are in awe of the small (and big!) ways that gratitude has filled our days.
We know from experience that every project we do is only as successful as our communication plan.
It’s why we communicate when there’s nothing new to share.
It’s why we communicate to keep our stakeholders informed and happy.
We’ve always stressed communication with the project team when we enter a partnership. But good communication can reach so many more audiences.
Let’s back up a minute.
What makes a community a community?
We’ve explored this question time and time again with both our partners and ourselves. And the responses never seem to end.
Is it quality schools? Successful businesses? Neighbors who bring you tomatoes from their backyard garden?
Or does a community become a community when we can have tough conversations with each other?
Or when we create something beautiful together?
As we were working on conference details for a client, something didn’t feel quite right. I knew there was something that the client wanted to change from the previous year’s event. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly what it was. (In my defense, it had been over a year since we had planned that particular conference. That’s a long time to remember things!)
Thankfully, I knew exactly where I could find what I needed. The detail was included in our post activity report, also known as the PAR.
It's not always easy to see things from someone else's perspective. And, yet, this is the first step in showing empathy.
Empathy requires effort. It requires that we set aside our own biases and listen – really listen.
At Reach Partners we work hard at understanding the perspectives of others. We also look for ways others show empathy. Here are some examples we've found and experienced:
If you’ve ever been asked to take minutes at a meeting and cringed, you’re not alone.
When you’re designated the minute taker, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. How detailed do you need to be? Will you capture everything that needs to be documented?
There’s no need to fret. Taking minutes isn’t as difficult as we think it should be. And it provides a crucial service to make sure activity doesn’t stop when the meeting is over.
Simply defined, meeting minutes are a written record of what happened.